Canada Needs a New Plan A in dealing with Pandemic Global Trade Rules



Colleen Collins|Carlos Dade|Policy Options Politiques

For Canada, one of the disturbing realities arising from the pandemic response is the breakdown in the global, rules-based trade system when we needed it most for critical supplies to fight the pandemic. The damage done was not devastating but it is a call to action.

The US administration’s attempts to prevent a shipment of N95 masks from the 3M plant right across the border in Minnesota got our attention. But less noticed is that 68 other governments also imposed some form of export restriction on materials related to fighting COVID-19.

Critically for Canada, this list of countries includes almost all those from which Canada imports critical supplies as seen in table 1, below. All these countries except Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand at some point during the crisis have had assorted forms of export restrictions on COVID-19 related materials.

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